If you suspect lice infestation (pediculosis), you can try an over-the-counter lice medicine or visit your doctor to double-check your symptoms. Call a doctor if:
- You have severe nighttime itching that does not go away after a few days.
- You see live lice or new eggs (nits) after using the medicine (prescription or nonprescription).
- You have serious side effects after using a product to treat lice.
- You have signs of a skin infection. These may include:
- Increased pain, swelling, heat, redness or tenderness.
- Red streaks extending from the affected area.
- Discharge of pus.
- Fever of 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) or higher with no other obvious cause.
Many medicines that treat lice can be harmful if overused or used improperly. Follow the directions exactly as labeled.
Lice will not go away without proper treatment. Even if they don't bother you much, lice can be spread to other household members, sex partners or other people you have close personal contact with. If you think you have lice, try an over-the-counter lice medicine or call a doctor.
Who to see
If you need help treating a lice problem, contact any of the following:
- Local health department
- Nurse practitioner or physician assistant
- Family medicine doctor
- Gynecologist (for pubic lice)
A pharmacist can answer your questions about medicines that treat lice.
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